When God is for You
2 Chronicles 13:1-16
October 1-2, 2022
I begin with a question. If you could choose, would you rather have God before you or against you? Now, you might say, "That's obvious. Who would want God against him? Of course, we would want God for us," but I submit that life's choices are not always that obvious. For example, many look at the circumstances of their lives, they look at the circumstances before them, and they respond according to what they see before their eyes without considering God at all.
They have relegated God to want the experience at church and have not considered that it is before God that we live and move and have our being. That's what Paul wrote in Acts 17. But if it is before God that we live and move and have our being, then God is part of our everyday lives and therefore should be factored in to every decision that we make. I call it the God factor.
In fact, when you look at the stories that have been unfolding in 2 Chronicles, you see that very thing. For example, Solomon. When Solomon collected all of those foreign women, as I've been mentioning, he had a thing for foreign women. He collected foreign women like some people collect foreign cars. When he did that, was he considering God? No, not at all. When he built altars to these foreign gods, altars of the wives of these foreign gods, even in Jerusalem, was he considering God in any of that? No.
He would find himself on the wrong side of the God factor. That therefore would not end well for Israel. Then after Solomon died, the people of Israel came to his son, Rehoboam asking him to lighten the hard service and the heavy yolk, which Solomon had put upon them, but Rehoboam rejected the wise advice of the elders who had served with Solomon and instead followed the advice of his young friends.
Their advice was to add to that heavy yoke, "Solomon disciplined you with whips, I will discipline you with scorpions." They thought to teach these people a harsh lesson. Was God factored into that? No, God wasn't factored into it at all. The result, God was against Rehoboam and he would find himself on the wrong side of the God factor and that would not end well. The people therefore rebelled against Rehoboam as we read.
The nation was therefore divided, 10 tribes in the North under their new leader Jeroboam, and two tribes in the South under Rehoboam. Interesting figure this Jeroboam there in the north. God had told him in advance that this would happen, that he would be a leader of the 10 tribes of Israel. Added this. This, of course, spoken to the prophet of God that, "Jeroboam, if you would listen to the commands of the Lord, if you would walk in His ways, if you do what is right in the sight of the Lord, then God would be for you. God would be your support, and He would build for you an enduring house like He had for David."
Jeroboam rejected these good words and made those two golden calves before whom the people might worship in the north instead of worshiping the God of Israel at Jerusalem. Question, when Jeroboam rejected those good words, when he made those two golden calves, one at Bethel, one at Dan, was God considered at all? No, God was not factored into that. He would find himself therefore on the wrong side of the God factor, and it would not end well for him or for the North. That's where we pick up our story.
We're in 2 Chronicles 13, after Rehoboam had slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. Then his son, Abijah was king in his place. Now, I love the name Abijah, by the way, because it is the same name as my granddaughter. My granddaughter, many of you know her name is Aviah, and Abijah and Aviah are basically the same word in Hebrew, and they're interchangeable. Abijah and there's no J in Hebrew, Aviah. Abijah, Aviah, same name. I love telling my granddaughter, "You are named after one of the kings of Israel." She's like, "Oh, that's so exciting." I love the name Aviah.
Abijah became king, and shortly after he became king, he gathered an army of 400,000 of chosen men, and drew up in battle formation against Jeroboam who came out to meet him with 800,000. Before the battle was engaged, Abijah gave a speech. There, he stood on the hill before them and called out to Jeroboam and the army that stood with him and gave one of the great speeches in the history of Israel.
In this great speech, Abijah warned them all that, "You have found yourselves on the wrong side of the God factor and therefore this will not end well for you." It's a great point. Anyone who finds themselves on the wrong side of the God factor will find themselves fighting against God. It's a great lesson for today. It's a great lesson for Israel. When it comes to the God factor, I'll tell you, I would rather have God for me than against me. I would never want to find myself fighting against God, kicking against Him, or resisting Him.
Because I've come to discover a great truth. If God is for me, then who can be against me? One of the great truths that Paul wrote in Romans 8. Let's read the speech. 2 Chronicles 13. Of course, we'll look at the other verses around it at the Wednesday verse by verse service. 2 Chronicles 13:1. "In the 18th year of the reign of Jeroboam, there in the North, Abijah became king of Judah in the South. He reigned three years in Jerusalem and his mother’s name was Maakah, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.
Abijah began the battle with an army of valued warriors, 400,000 chosen men, while Jeroboam drew up in battle formation against him with 800,000 chosen men who were valued warriors. Then Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, and he said, "Listen to me Jeroboam and all Israel with you. Do you not know that the Lord, the God of Israel, gave the rule, the authority over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?"
That is an interesting phrase which, of course, we'll look at. "By a covenant of salt, God gave the rule and authority over Israel to David and his sons, do you not know this?" Yet Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, the son of Solomon, the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his master." Then, worthless men gathered around him, scoundrels who proved too strong for Rehoboam, the son of Solomon when he was young and timid and could not hold his own against them and not strong enough to resist them.
Now, you intend to resist the kingdom of the Lord, through the sons of David being a great multitude and having with you those golden calves, which Jeroboam made as gods for you, then, have you not driven out the priests of the Lord, Jehovah, the sons of Aaron and Levites and then made for yourselves priests, like the people of other lands? Oh, whoever, consecrates himself, whoever wants to bring a young bull or seven rams, anyone, even he can become a priest of what are no gods.
Anybody can be a priest in the North, apparently. He's saying it's like what male order priesthood. You want to be a priest? You're no one, everyone can become a priest. What is this? This is part of his speech. I'm just embellishing a little. His speech continues, verse 10, "But as for us, the Lord, Yahweh, He is our God and we have not forsaken Him and the sons of Aaron are ministering to the Lord as priest and the Levites attend to their work, every morning, every evening, they burn to the Lord. Burn offerings and fragrant incense. The shortbread is set on the clean table.
The golden lampstand with its lamp is ready to light every evening for we keep the charge of the Lord our God. We have not forsaken Him. Now, behold, God is with us and God is with us at our head. His priests with the signal trumpets are ready to sound the alarm against you, oh sons of Israel. Do not fight against the Lord God of your fathers for you will not succeed. That is his speech. That is a powerful speech. Do not fight against the Lord God of your father. You will not succeed. Jeroboam had set up an ambush to come from the rear, so that Israel was in front of Judah and the ambush was behind them. Now, when Judah turned around, behold they were attacked, both front and rear. They cried to the Lord. They called out to God and the priest blew the signal trumpets, and the men of Judah, they raised the war cry. When the men of Judah raised that war cry, it was then that God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.
I. Be Governed by God
When the sons of Israel then fled before Judah, God gave them into their hand. These are the verses that I want to look at. What a wonderful speech, is this filled with tremendous insight for our lives today. Starting with this, be governed by God. That is the call. Notice in verse 5, "Do you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the rule, gave authority over Israel forever to David and his sons, this by a covenant of salt."
Now, interestingly, God has given rule and authority over the church also to a son of David. It applies also to us. Now, one of the great principles of being on the right side of the God factor is understanding that he has authority in your life. God is the captain. He sends the commander of the soul through His son, who is a son of David. "Do you not know," he says, "That God gave rule and authority over your soul to a son of David, even to the church?" His name is Yeshua Hamashiach. Jesus is that Messiah he is referring to. Now, that's Colossians 1:18-20.
A. Those under authority have authority
He, being Jesus, is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning. The first born from the dad, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace to the blood of His cross. He, therefore, has the authority to speak into our lives. See, the one who will abide well under that authority will find himself on the right side of the God factor, and God will bless your life. In other words, those who are under authority have authority.
Abijah, why could Abijah stand with such confidence? Why such faith? Because he knew he was on the right side of God. He was on the right side of history that God had made a covenant with Israel and it was a covenant of salt, which we'll see. He spoke with authority because he knew that he was on the right side of God's authority, and therefore God's authority was with him. He was under and therefore could stand in that authority. In fact, when you go back in the history of Israel, and even to when God gave the name Israel to their father Jacob, you see this very premise. Go back in history. Remember all of the promises that God gave to Abraham, and there were many. All of those were passed to his son Isaac.
Then Isaac was the father of Jacob and his twin brother, Esau. All of the promises, therefore, of Abraham and Isaac were to be passed to Jacob, but Jacob resisted God. He would resist and resist and tried to bring about that by his own manipulation, you might say, and then finally it culminated to a point where one night he found himself literally in a wrestling match with the angel of the Lord, which many believe is a theophany or an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament.
In this event is a very interesting insight. Now, Hosea, the prophet mentions this in Hosea 12:3-4, he says this, "In the womb, Jacob took his brother by the heel." Now if you remember the story, they were twins. Esau was born first. As he was being born, however, Jacob took hold of the heel of his brother, Esau." They said, "Oh, look at that. Isn't that cute? The brother has a hold of his heel. We ought to call him a heel catcher or heel snatcher." See, it has a double meaning. Not only one who takes hold of the heel, but one who trips other people up. That is who he became. The manipulator, the deceiver. It says, "In the womb, Jacob took his brother by the heel, and then in later years, contended with God."
Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed, then he wept and sought his favor. In other words, after wrestling with that angel of God, a theophany of Christ, until daybreak, the angel then said to Jacob, "Let me go. Dawn is breaking," but he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The angel of the Lord said to him, "What is your name?" Now he's going to bless him. He's going to give a blessing, but it comes to this, "What is your name?"
Now, the angel of the Lord knew his name very well. He wanted him to say it because the name revealed the greatest weakness, "My name is Jacob, Heel Snatcher, Supplanter, Deceiver." God then said, "You have lived long enough being Jacob the Heel Snatcher, the Supplanter. Now your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel."
Now the name Israel has, you might say two sides of that coin. It can mean God contends against or God contends for. Receiving that name, Israel, was the greatest blessing in the very blessing that Jacob needed. If he would abide under the authority of God, if he would be governed by God, then God would contend against those who contend against you. You see the story in his context. You understand the hand of God moving to protect Jacob and what follow next.
B. Don’t find yourself wrestling with God
In other words, don't find yourself wrestling with God. That was part of Abijah's speech. Notice verse 8, now you intend to resist the kingdom of the Lord? You intend to fight against the kingdom of the Lord. You intend to resist? You will not succeed. See, in other words, you think because you have a great multitude and you have those golden calves, which Jeroboam-- You think you have the advantage. For you are quite wrong. For you are resisting the kingdom of the Lord and you will not succeed. For God is far greater.
Anyone who finds himself wrestling against God will find that he has a tremendously powerful opponent. Whenever I think about this, I think about when I was a wrestler back in 8th grade, what had happened was this, I had never been in a sport in my life and I decided that I wanted to be a wrestler. In 8th grade, having no experience whatsoever, I signed up and they put me on the junior varsity team having no experience whatsoever. I went in my 8th-grade year, starting out in JV. I went in one year from being JV to-- By the time that year finished, I was on the varsity team wrestling the best wrestler in the state of Oregon.
Now you're probably wondering, "How is that possible that you could go from JV to wrestling the best wrestler in the state of Oregon?" I'm glad you asked. What happened was this. They knew that nobody could beat him. Therefore, they thought, "Why waste somebody good? Let's bring Rich up from the JV. Let Rich wrestle him because Rich can't beat anybody anyway." I know, I know. I've been in counseling ever since. I'm in. All right, you want me to wrestle with this guy? Oh, you should have seen this guy, just standing there. His chest was like this.
His arms could not rest naturally at his side. He would have to walk like this. I'm thinking, "Okay, all right, all right." I'm off to the side. I'm practicing my tick downs." Of course, now I'm out there on the mat with Fred, and the referee says," Go."
I swoop in like lightning and I do a tick down on Fred Norgan, and the crowd went wild, and then he turned me over and flipped me just like that, over in about 10 seconds. You find yourself wrestling against God, it's like that. You will not prevail. Then verse 9, "For good measure," he adds, "Have you not driven out the priest of the Lord? Did you not make for yourself priests, like the priests of other lands of what are no gods?" In other words, when they drove out the priests of the Lord, they were rejecting God. They were rejecting the God of Israel. The result of rejecting God is trouble, great trouble. In fact, I submit that we are seeing that very thing unfolding in our nation today. Have we not rejected God in all our institutions? Are we not as a nation growing farther and farther away from God? The result will be trouble, great trouble. Are we not seeing this and the nations of the world is not the world growing farther and farther away from God? The result will be, troubles, great troubles upon the world.
Jesus said, "This will be an indication that we are drawing nearer to the end of the age." Notice, Matthew 24, Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him saying, "Tell us, when will these things be and what will be the sign of your coming and at the end of the age?" Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one mislead you, you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened. For these things must take place but that is not yet the end. Nation will rise against nation, kingdom will rise against kingdom and in various places, there will be famines and earthquakes, but these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs," He uses the analogy of a woman in childbirth. Anyone who has experienced that knows that the birth pangs grow greater in intensity, and closer together as the event draws nearer.
That's the analogy He says, "Even the earth itself, there will be events on the earth itself, which indicate the troubles that will come upon the world, and the wars and the rumors of wars, as the world grows farther and farther away from God, the troubles of the world will increase," Jesus is saying.
Then he added, "As for you, do not be frightened, stay on the alert, watch, watch for the signs of the times and be ready," and He means by that to be spiritually on the alert that you are spiritually ready.
II. Take Your Stand with God
I submit that what we are seeing unfolding now in the world, particularly what's happening in Ukraine, in Russia is the beginning and the result of great troubles. The Russian leader Vladimir Putin does not take kindly to defeat, which is what has been happening. Now that he has annexed these four territories of Ukraine, no doubt and hopefully, you've been following in the news, which is a very important thing to do to stay on the alert, watch for the signs of the times.
He has annexed these territories in Ukraine so that he can declare them to be Russian soil, and therefore, would feel justified in defending this new so-called territory of Russia, even with nuclear weapons. We are living in very dangerous days. Stay on the alert, do not be frightened, these things must be but then comes this out of the story in times like that, times like these, take your stand with God. There comes a point where you have to say, decide in whom will you believe. In what will you stand, take your stand with God. Notice firsthand where he says in this great speech, "As for us, the Lord is our God and we have not forsaken Him. He is with us and He is with us as our head and the priests are ready to sound the signal trumpets against you, oh sons of Israel, do not fight against the Lord God of your fathers, you will not succeed. Do not fight against the God of your fathers, you cannot succeed. Do not kick against God, do not resist."
In other words Abijah is saying, "We know in whom we have believed, we have taken our stand. God is at the head." It's like reminds me of Joshua. When Joshua was about the end of his life and gathered Israel together and made that great challenge. "Look around you and choose who you will serve. Whether the gods of the world, the gods from which you came there in Egypt, but as for me and my house, we have decided, we have settled this. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
A. God is with those who are with Him
There's a time to take your stand. That's what he is saying in this great speech because he's standing in a great principle. God is with those who are with Him. It is a principle that you can stand on. The priests were ready to sound the alarm against the armies of the North. Now, Abijah had with him 400,000 while Jeroboam had with him 800,000. In other words, Abijah's forces are outnumbered 2:1.
Why such confidence? Because when the priests sound the signal trumpets, it was a signal cry for the help of God to move on their behalf. It was an aspect of faith to believe that God is with us and that those who are with God, they will find that God is with them. Notice Numbers 10:9, "When you go to war in your land against the adversary who comes against you, you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the Lord your God and save you from your enemies." It's an aspect of faith, to call out on the name of the Lord, for those who are with God will find that God is with them.
Shortly after Israel entered into that land that God had promised, Joshua learned this very lesson. They were shortly across the Jordan, when picking up the story, Joshua 5, it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, then he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn. Now, that is a posture when the sword is drawn, he stands and sees this man standing. Again, many believed to be a theophany of Christ and Joshua went up to him and said, "Are you for us or are you for our adversaries?" The man says, "No. Neither." This is a fascinating answer, "No, neither. Rather, indeed, I come now as captain of the host of the armies of the Lord."
Joshua, hearing this fell on his face to the earth and bowed down and said, "What has the Lord my Lord to say to His servant?" The captain of the Lord said to Joshua, "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy," and Joshua did so. What a great lesson is this? "Are you for us or for our enemies?" No, the question is, are you for God or against Him? This was David's understanding. David was a man of tremendous confidence but his confidence was in the Lord because he knew that those who are with God, God is for them.
Psalm 27, I tell you is one of my favorite songs you got to memorize them some time. Just a few of the verses. "The Lord is the defense of my life," he wrote, "Of whom shall I be afraid?" You told me should I be afraid? If the Lord is the defense of my life, why should I be afraid? Though hosting caps against me, in other words, if I'm even outnumbered, my heart will not fear. Though war arise against me in spite of this, I shall be confident and my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy, I will sing yes, I will sing praises to the Lord, they will do that, and only that God will be with him," but there's something beautiful in this relationship. Then there's this, God's covenant of salt is good.
B. God’s covenant of salt is good
It's a very interesting phrase known as verse 5. "Do you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the rule and the authority over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?" What is the covenant of salt? It's mentioned in several places in Scripture, it's important to understand it as deep and beautiful meaning. Now, a covenant of salt is not a covenant by itself, rather is talking about the qualities of salt applied to whatever covenant it's applied to. Because salt had several important aspects to it, that were very important. Back in those days, for example, when they would consume meat, they would need to preserve it. They didn't have like we do today, freezers and refrigerators and all. They would preserve by curing with salt. They'd come to understand how important-- It was life-sustaining to understand that salt would preserve. Everything was done with salt. In fact, so valuable was salt that in the Roman days, soldiers would even be given a salt allowance.
In fact, even today we say, "Oh, he's worth this salt, comes from the very understanding." It has the preserving aspect. In other words, when God makes a covenant and it's a covenant of salt, it endures, it stands. When God makes the promise you can believe that that promise stands. That's the aspect of salt. There's also another aspect of salt, and that is pleasantness.
It brings out the qualities of the food. When you add salt to food, it brings out wonders, wonderful pleasantness of flavor. This is the aspect of a covenant with salt. For example, Leviticus 2:13, "Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings, you shall offer salt because of what it means."
Whenever you apply the salt, you are reminded that God's promises endure, that His covenant stands. Oh, I tell you. I hope you get to go to Israel sometime and taste their fresh bread. Baked, you can imagine with a wood fire oven, flatbread, olive oil, salt, other spices, and aromatics. Oh, my, is it delicious even to smell? Put the salt. It's a reminder that God's word stands, God's word endures.
Then, he adds this, this is Numbers 18:19. He's speaking of another different covenant. This is a covenant to Aaron and his sons that whenever the people of Israel bring a tithe offering or whatever, that this would be given to Aaron and his son as a provision. "It's a covenant that I make with you," He says. Notice Numbers 18:19, "All the offerings of the holy gifts which the sons of Israel offered to the Lord, I had given to you and your sons and your daughters with you as the perpetual allotment."
It is an everlasting covenant of salt before you, before the Lord to you and your descendants with you. There's a beautiful picture of this. God's covenant to rule and reign over Israel, through David or a Son of David is a covenant that will endure and even to this day endures. That covenant also applies to you and me. The church is ruled and reigned over by a Son of David, his name is Jesus.
There's also then the pleasantness of it. For example, in Colossians 4:6, he speaks of the pleasantness even of those who follow the Lord in how they speak. The speech of a follower of Christ ought to be pleasant. Colossians 4:6, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as though with salt." The followers of the Lord. There ought to be a pleasantness because God has done a pleasantness work in you. Have you not received grace? Have you not received forgiveness? Hasn't God not done a beautiful work on your soul so that you then can speak out of that with a beautiful word, grace?
He says in another place, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth." No, none, nada, nichevo. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word, such as good for edification. In other words, Colossians 4:6, "Let your speech, oh, follower of Christ, be out of the pleasantness of your soul, season as though with sault so that you will know how you should respond to every person." Back many years ago when I was in the restaurant business, there used to be a debate amongst those in the kitchen about salt. How much salt do you put in the food?
There was one thought that no salt should be added so that the customer can add whatever they wish. I was of the mind that when they sat to eat a meal, I did not want them to say, "Oh dear, this needs salt." I wanted them to say, "Oh, how wonderful is this? Oh, how pleasant is this to have this wonderful meal?" It's a pleasantness to salt and it endures forever.
When God takes a sinner, God takes this sinner in all the ugliness of their nature. The nature of man is quite ugly, I think you would agree. God takes the nature of that sinner and then transforms it. First of all, when He draws a sinner to Himself, He makes a covenant. If you asked Jesus Christ and your heart as Lord and Savior, there's a covenant. It's a covenant of blood, which is why we partake of communion. It's a reminder of that blood, but it endures as a covenant of salt.
When God makes a promise to you and He enters into that covenant with you, you can be sure that stands and nothing and no one can take you from the hand of God your Father. When He brings you into relationship to God, He has adopted you as a son, as a daughter, you can call God your own father, and you can be sure that promise will stand.
Then there's the pleasantness. He'll do something beautiful. When the peace of God, it's a peace that passes understanding is upon your soul. Is that not beautiful? When the joy of the Lord, God's joy is yours, is that not beautiful? When the love which overflows upon the soul is on you, is that not beautiful? God does a work of taking a sinner in all of the ugliness of their life and all of the ugliness of a sin and begins a transforming work that is very beautiful, and it endures. He'll never quit, He'll never give up. He will pursue and move to do that which is beautiful on your life.
Let's pray. Father, thank you so much for showing us yet again what you do when you take a sinner and draw that sinner to yourself. God, we've come to understand that in times like these, you got to decide. God, we take our stand with you. We know in whom we have believed and we've set our feet on that rock. As for me and my house, we have served the Lord and we choose to follow you. You stand as head. God, we know that in that covenant you do a beautiful work. Well, God, we open our heart to you and say, here am I. Do that in me. Thank you for being in the rock on which I can build my life. Do that in me. Do that in me Lord.